A television show that I enjoyed, which originally aired in the late 90’s through to 2002, is Dharma and Greg. It is about a free-spirited woman with two hippy parents who is very spiritual, very loving and very funny. She marries a conservative born and bred lawyer, and the exchange, dynamic and growth between the two is what makes this such a great show.
At one point Dharma is praying in a hospital chapel, and her spirit guide, a Native American named George whom she connected with personally before he died, comes to her aid and offers advice in her time of need. He hears her praying, trying to have a conversation with whatever deity will listen in the multifaith chapel, and offers these very poignant words which I remember to this very day.
Dharma is feeling remorse because of harsh words she had about her mother, and now her mother is in danger of losing the child that she is carrying.
"George, my Mom might lose the baby."
"And you feel like you made this happen."
"It feels like it."
"Well if you did, they should put your picture up here on the spinning God Wheel", he says, indicating the multifaith prayer icon on the altar.
"Whether I did it or not, I was thinking it."
"Because you were angry."
"So what should I do now? Do you think I should stay here and pray?"
"What do you mean by praying?"
"I don't know - talk to the universe, to God, the Great Spirit, whatever It is."
“Huh. So, you’re having a conversation with the Great Spirit, the Maker of All Things, and you’re doing the talking?”
This, indeed defines for me the nature of what prayer is seen as today. Even if we are not asking for anything, a lot of prayer in our culture and society consists of a one-way conversation between the individual and the deity/spirit in question. Prayer is a relationship, for me, and as such necessitates a give and take in everything, including both spoken and unspoken words. Too often in prayer, we forget to listen. When we speak and then listen, then we are communing. Otherwise, we are just talking.